Herding Instinct test in September - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-20-2017, 04:05 PM Thread Starter
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Herding Instinct test in September

I'm quite excited for this. Come the first weekend in September, Ryka will be participating in a herding instinct test. She'll be working with either ducks or sheep, depending on what the judges decide. Because she'll be 6 months of age by that point, it could go either way.

Is there anything to keep in mind when going? Anything I should be watching for or wary of before the test or during the day of? I'm very intrigued by whether or not she'll pass. She has a strong prey drive, and when she chases my SIL's Golden in the backyard she does an excellent job of cutting her off and driving her through certain gaps between the trees. So I'm a bit worried she's just going to get excited and try to take everything down, but I'm hoping that in a flock situation she'll be more inclined to guide them rather than the alternative.

We're also going to do an informal introduction to barn hunt just for fun. So far she's doing her intro obedience classes, intro to dock diving, and will be doing the herding/barn hunting. Having a working line is fun

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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-20-2017, 04:50 PM
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Exciting!

If it's an organized event (where many dogs are being tested) plan to arrive early and stay late. The more dogs you watch, the more you'll learn. Stand close enough to listen to what people are saying about the other dogs.

Good evaluators are fascinating to watch. Try to stand back from the fence so your dog can focus on the task at hand (GSDs are notorious for wanting to "check in" with their owner).

Bring your dog well rested (don't try to tire the dog out with fetch or runs beforehand, that often backfires). A plain buckle collar is usually requested, and some require you to remove any tags for safety.

Post an update afterward!
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-20-2017, 05:07 PM Thread Starter
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That's good to know! I'll keep her well rested for that day then. I'm hoping that by that time, our heel work and leash manners are much more under control in stimulating environments so that she isn't terribly bonkers, though she will still have that total puppy mentality.

Because both her and I are totally new to it, would one of the evaluators end up handling her instead of myself? And which length of line do you think would be good to have? I have a 33' line on its way, and we also have a variety of 6' leashes too.

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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-20-2017, 05:19 PM
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At every one I've attended, the evaluator handles the dog - BUT - other people have told me about their own experiences where the owner handled the dog.

In my experience, the owner is asked to remain outside the testing area unless the dog refuses to work without the presence of the owner. In those cases, the evaluator invites the owner into the arena and tells the owner what to do. The evaluator remains inside the arena, for the safety of the stock, and works with the owner.

I've watched some pretty obstinate dogs, including dogs that outright failed the herding evaluation, and in 7+ years I have neve seen a sheep, goat or duck injured - due to the skill and good timing of the evaluator.

If you are given the choice, and your dog is agreeable, I would hands-down recommend letting the instructor work your dog. Body language and timing help bring out the instinct in a dog. The evaluator usually provides a long line of their own, no need to drag yours through sheep poop 😉

I love instinct tests, I love watching the lightbulb turn on in young dogs. Go with an open mind. Even if your puppy doesn't have aptitude, you'll walk away with some really interesting observations about herding breeds!

I hope you have a great time.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-20-2017, 05:37 PM Thread Starter
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I would definitely rather the evaluator handle her than me! So that's great to know. I don't think she'll have a problem once she's focused on the task at hand to be honest. She does always look to me for instruction/appeasement, but if she's focused and I'm close enough, I think she'll be workable. Or so I'm hoping... time will tell.

I'm very excited to see how it goes though. I know that her breeder uses her dogs to herd her dairy cattle. She lives on 500+ acres of land, so many of the adults are used often. Here's hoping my girl has a little bit of that natural instinct in her, too. I'll do my best to get some pictures and hopefully some video and update afterwards. I think she's going to have a blast doing the informal barn hunt though, haha!

Thanks for your help!
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-03-2017, 07:33 PM Thread Starter
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So we went to the herding instinct test, and boy oh boy do we have lots to learn, hahaha. It wasn't really what I was expecting though, I was anticipating the evaluator to handle Ryka more, teach her a bit more about boundaries, and keep her on a line and kind of work her a bit more rather than simply telling me to walk in and let her go for it.

Needless to say, a young GSD with good prey drive does not make for a gentle herder. She was definitely more focused on chasing rather than herding, which I wasn't surprised about. I think if we were to go when she was more mature with a better cap on her prey drive through me she would do well. But currently it's just a game of chase for a five and a half month old pup to enjoy. But she did really well in the barn hunt! No issue crawling over stuff or under things, and she has a great nose. So with a bit of guidance, she was very successful in finding the rats.

Regardless of her not passing right now though, the real win was how well she behaved. We were there for four hours and she sat by my side the entire time. Either laying, sniffing here and there, or simply sitting. Calmly greeted any dog that calm up to her and a pleasure for anyone who wanted to pet her. Just a wonderfully confident and socially calm dog, it made me so happy. She was taken aback by the Afghan Hound she met, but other than that she was very calm and not at all the barky, drivey dog she was a few weeks ago.

Anyways, I got one good video of her and us, and a cute photo of her by my side as we patiently waited for our turn.

Oh, and disclaimer - the Iams shirt is something I received for participating in a 5KM fun run in 2012 for the Veterinary College here to raise funds for local rescues. So please no angry comments about that, haha!



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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-03-2017, 07:42 PM
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I think she's showing the instinct at times, not just chasing. She want's to bring back the one that breaks away, right?

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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-03-2017, 07:55 PM Thread Starter
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I think she definitely has potential, but I'm pretty new to the whole thing. Honestly I thought at the beginning she was doing quite well, but the longer it went on the more amped up she got and the more fun the chase was versus trying to bring the sheep back became.

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